University of Toledo Medical Center Testing Breakthrough 

Earlier this month AFSCME Local 2415 members at The University of Toledo Medical Center are part of a team that have once again proven the hospital’s worth as a research, training and care institution by developing a COVID19 test that yields much faster results than others in use.

Before UTMC’s Pathology Lab stepped in, testing in Lucas County took up to eight days to yield results. But now, the lab at UTMC can test up to 180 samples a day and returns take 48 hours or less.

The test kit UTMC’s team of experts developed is now in use across the region.

Union member and molecular biologist Heather Kvale said there are not many hospitals like UTMC, which has its own molecular research department with funding by the National Institutes of Health.

“We have a great team of specialists and they all worked tirelessly to make this happen. I’m really glad that we were able to decrease the testing time so that people didn’t sit there in limbo,” she said.

To perfect their testing capability UTMC’s molecular diagnostics specialists had to show their test kit provided accurate results. Fortunately, the lab already had the right people, equipment and kit samples to work with.

Virtually every hospital department pitched in. The laboratory IT department was able to rapidly build the test into their system. UTMC’s phlebotomists and Medical Technologists coordinated to bring specimens into the department for testing, and the Safety and Health department worked to keep the team safe. 

“Even the Shipping and Receiving department helped coordinate our deliveries so we could stay stocked with the materials we needed to run the tests. There are so many wonderful people here at UTMC it would be impossible to name them all – we couldn’t have done it without each-and-every one of them,” Kvale said.   

According to AFSCME Local 2415 President Randy Desposito, “This is exactly why we need to keep research, teaching, and care public hospitals like UTMC. They have the people, expertise and equipment to make a difference, not just in Toledo but for all of Ohio,” he said.

Photo Credit: University of Toledo. Pictured: Back Row, Left to Right: Heather Byrd; Nichole Ortiz; Heather Kavale. Front Row, Left to Right: Michelle Lewandowski; Holly Mohon; Shauna Rasor.

Earn A Bachelor’s Degree – For Free. But Hurry Up and Apply.

Here’s an offer AFSCME members and their families cannot refuse. They can earn a bachelor’s degree in teacher education or business administration – for free.

In response to the health and economic uncertainty facing many AFSCME members, the AFSCME Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program, in partnership with Central State University, is making it possible for students who enroll in the summer 2020 term to complete their entire degree online with no out-of-pocket cost – as long as they remain continuously enrolled. Students may enroll part time, but continuous enrollment is required.

But students must act fast. They must enroll in the summer term to take advantage of this offer, and classes begin on May 18.

There will be no out-of-pocket cost for tuition, fees, or e-books through graduation, not just the summer term. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and go through Central State University’s aid process.

Students who are unemployed, furloughed or laid off need not worry. They and their eligible family members can still enroll in the bachelor’s completion program. AFSCME is here to help members and their families through these uncertain times.

Members can learn more about this limited time offer by calling 888-897-9671 or get started online at bachelorsdegree.afscme.org.

Also, students still have the option of earning a free associate degree through the AFSCME Free College program.

Students and their family members will earn the online, two-year degree from Eastern Gateway Community College at no cost. If they haven’t yet earned an associate degree, or if they are interested in programs other than what’s offered through the bachelor’s degree completion program, AFSCME Free College just might be the right fit.

AFSCME Free College offers many general education and technical courses that are transferrable to other colleges and universities, including in-demand programs such as health care administration, teacher education, programming and development, cybersecurity, advertising, human resources and accounting. Enrollment for the June 1 session is now open.

Read the full article here.

Frequently Asked Questions About the CARES Act and PUA Program

Ohio, like every other state in the nation, has received federal funding for individuals made jobless as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. Benefits are available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program.

In order to speed up the weekly claim filing process the Ohio Department of Job and Family services has announced an application schedule based on the first letter of your last name (see table below).

If you have experienced a lay-off, furlough, or your job has otherwise been impacted click here for a summary of the programs created by the federal CARES Act.

For answers to questions regarding eligibility, how to apply, benefits, and other frequently asked questions click here.

Eastern Gateway Has Your Back

Even is you or your family member have been laid off, furloughed, or displaced you will have access to online college programs through graduation, with no interruption.

Eastern Gateway has got your back. See the flyer below for more information.

Make a call and protect workers in your community.

Congress is now busy at work creating the COVID 4 relief bill. This bill is aimed at helping workers affected by the crisis.
We must act TODAY – to make sure hospital, education, city, state and county workers will be included in the latest response bill’s funding.

The bill is intended to work by offering loans to businesses to keep their employees on their payrolls and offer expanded unemployment benefits to workers who do lose their job.

Currently Hospitals, public schools, and local and state governments are not included.

Our top priority for this COVID response bill must be to provide $200 billion in additional direct funds with a clear requirement that money will be used to protect public service jobs.

NOW is the time to act in order to remove the roadblocks and fix previous Coronavirus Aid acts so that public service workers who face cutbacks and job loses will not be left out.

To make that happen we need you to call or e-mail Sen. Sherrod Brown (click here) and Sen. Rob Portman (click here) and your congressional representative (click here).

Let them know that hospital, education, city, state and county workers must be included in the latest COVID response bill’s funding.

From the Emergency Room to the classroom, from the County Engineer to the public health department, these public services workers keep Ohio’s communities healthy and safe. These critical jobs must be protected.

Call and keep calling. Let your mayor, county executive, Ohio House and Senate representative know Ohio must keep its public service workers on the job.

Ask them to call their friends in Washington D.C. and go to bat for the people who make Ohio happen.

Call 1-800-282-0253 to reach your Ohio Representative (click here) to find your Ohio Senator
To download a detailed COVID4 fact sheet, click here.

How neighbors in Cincinnati rallied to thank AFSCME sanitation workers

Retired Cincinnati employee Gerald Checco has worked in many City departments and recognizes the professionalism of the city’s workforce. “These folks cannot, and will not stay home and wait for the pandemic to pass. They too face conditions that put their personal health at risk.” 
“We naturally think of our hospital professionals who continue hourly to face an unknown enemy, but we need to also think of our government employees who continue to do their jobs and maintain some semblance of normalcy while the rest of us must do our part and stay at home.”
Checco rallied his neighbors in the Cincinnati community of Clifton to thank the members of AFSCME Local 255’s “ever-reliable sanitation workers” and through them to “ all committed city and county employees.”
 
On pickup day the community said thank you to the union members by posting “thank you” note on their trash cans as an expression of their gratitude. 

Ohio To Run Mail-in Primary Through April 28

Ohio’s official primary Election Day is long gone, but if you didn’t get to the polls on March 17 when the polls were closed because of the coronavirus, you can still cast your ballot.

The Ohio General Assembly has extended absentee voting until Tuesday, April 28, “but there are a few hoops to jump through,” said Council 8 Political and Legislative Director Robert Davis.

According to Davis, the first step is to request an absentee ballot. The fastest way is through the secretary of state’s website click here.

Fill out and print the ballot request, put a stamp on an envelope, and mail it to your local board of elections. In a few days you should receive an absentee ballot. If you don’t have a computer, call your county board of elections to ask that a ballot be mailed to you. Click here to find your county board of elections.

Make sure you fill out the ballot request carefully. Mistakes may cause the board of elections to reject it.  A common error is putting the current date where your birth date is supposed to go.

The board will then mail you an absentee ballot specific to your locality. “That means you will still be able to vote on tax, bond, and other local issues,” Davis said.

Your ballot will arrive with a postage-paid envelope. Fill out the ballot and drop it in the mail or take it to a drop box at your county board of elections.

“This is not an ideal situation because we were looking forward to primary election day to collect signatures to make sure issues like raising the minimum wage to $13 per hour would be on the November ballot. If you haven’t already voted, act quickly and cast your ballot in this extended primary election,” Davis said,

Ballots must be postmarked by April 27.

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Members Help Athens Schools In Time of Need

Food service workers Ashley Dowler, left, and Megan McKenzie are on the job packing meals.

Food service workers Ashley Dowler, left, and Megan McKenzie are on the job packing meals.

Members of AFSCME Local 1846 are working with the Athens public schools Board of Education to take care of their students’ appetites for food and knowledge during the present health crisis. 

Based on the results of a survey of the system’s families “our members are working to making sure our students are being well fed and will continue to be well educated with on-line learning,” said union president Monna French.

During the week Athens school food service employees prepare breakfast and lunch packages for students which are delivered by Local 1846 bus drivers and paraprofessional volunteers.

The school’s survey also revealed a shortage of internet learning devices for the now stay-at-home students. “Our members are making sure students will have school issued tablets to keep up with their studies,” said French, a student resource coordinator.

From left, Local 1846 volunteers Kelly Six, Cara France, and union president Monna French. 

From left, Local 1846 volunteers Kelly Six, Cara France, and union president Monna French. 

But a digital book is no good without internet access.  “Athens County is very rural so our members will also turn internet dead-spots into to internet hot-spots by delivering and setting up board provided access equipment so kids can keep on learning,” she said.

In addition to serving her local union, French is also a Volunteer Member Organizer.

Cincinnati Enquirer: See why Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley calls ‘Rosie the Riveter’ school nurses ‘inspiring’

You are there when your community needs you. Thank you.

As many of us work from the safety of our homes to prevent the spread of this deadly virus, we are becoming more aware of the vital role public and private service workers are playing to keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe.

To the brave women and men who continue to work in our medical facilities; to police, fire fighters, EMTs, dispatchers and call takers who are responding to emergency calls; to the care givers in nursing homes and those providing in home care; to water, waste water, custodial and waste services personnel who are continuing to keep our public spaces and the environment clean; to those transporting food and needed goods; to food service workers who are preparing and delivery meals; to teachers who have worked all week converting in class lessons to on line educational instruction for our kids; to State and county workers still processing food aide and unemployment compensation claims for families in need and workers who have been laid off; to the public policy leaders and elected officials who are trying to coordinate state and local governmental responses to this ongoing and changing crisis and to all of the other service workers everywhere still working for all of us – Thank you.

We are witnessing true heroism. The heroes are not the movie stars and ball players we usually idolize when times are good. These are our family members, our union sisters and brothers, our neighbors and in most cases, people we don’t even know, risking their lives so that others may be saved.

Thank you for your work and your sacrifice. Your dedication is not going unnoticed or without deep appreciation. We are all in your debt.

Thank you to the incredible members of AFSCME, Ohio Council 8. Your strength and devotion to your work and your communities is beyond what words can convey. Our families, our communities will survive this threat, in large measure, because of your efforts.

May God bless you and keep you safe.

R. Sean Grayson, President
AFSCME Ohio Council 8, AFL-CIO

6800 North High Street, Worthington, Ohio, 43085-2512
Phone: 614-841-1918
Fax: 614-841-1299